The Brood (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Brood (1979)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Canadian director David Cronenberg followed his graphic vampire variation Rabid with this multi-layered, speculative horror film which addresses the way the repressed demons of the psyche can force their way to the surface. Psychologist Dr. Raglan (Oliver Reed), director of the controversial Psychoplasmic Institute and author of the book "The Shape of Rage," encourages his patients to outwardly manifest their anger and fear (aided by some experimental drugs), which then takes physical shape as actual sores, cancers, or strange new organs. One of Raglan's more successful patients (from his point-of-view, anyway) is Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar), who is undergoing therapy following a painful divorce from her husband, Frank (Art Hindle). When Frank discovers evidence that Nola may have injured their daughter, Candice (Cindy Hinds), he begins to suspect Raglan's techniques but is unprepared for the most horrifying by-product of her rage: a progeny of sexless, dwarflike mutants who are born for the sole purpose of acting out her violent fantasies of revenge. Containing only enough energy to carry out their murderous tasks, the brood is dispatched to kill Nola's parents, then a woman she believes is having an affair with Frank. By the time Frank discovers the origins of the tiny offspring, they have already abducted Candice and taken her to the institute, where Frank must confront Nola in person. Although it contains one of the most visceral and nauseating scenes in movie history (during the film's climax), this nevertheless remains the most subtle of Cronenberg's early horror projects, with a strong subtext about the devastating effects of divorce. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror
Directed By:
Written By: David Cronenberg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 26, 2003


Oliver Reed
as Dr. Hal Raglan
Samantha Eggar
as Nola Carveth
Art Hindle
as Frank Carveth
Cindy Hinds
as Candice Carveth
Henry Beckman
as Barton Kelly
Nuala Fitzgerald
as Juliana Kelly
Susan Hogan
as Ruth Mayer
Michael McGhee
as Inspector Mrazek
Gary McKeehan
as Mike Trellan
Felix Silla
as Creature
Christopher Britton
as Man In Auditorium
Michael Magee
as Inspector
Joseph Shaw
as Coroner
Jerry Kostur
as Construction Worker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Brood

Critic Reviews for The Brood

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (4)

A cinematic bad dream that generates recurring nightmares.

Full Review… | May 4, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

The Brood is an el sleazo exploitation film, camouflaged by the presence of several well-known stars but guaranteed to nauseate you all the same.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | December 4, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

the horrors are simultaneously literal and allegorical, springing from a deep emotional well that transcends the bounds of conventional drama

Full Review… | October 29, 2015
Q Network Film Desk

As is often the case with Cronenberg, the intriguing subtext (here, the damage caused by divorce and the dubious benefits of psychology) is neutered by an amateurish and even risible storyline as well as inconsistent characters who make little sense.

Full Review… | October 17, 2015
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for The Brood


From the master of body horror David Cronenberg came this gruesome and thoroughly amusing film that is better to be seen without knowing anything about (even if it isn't exactly surprising or any hard to guess), and it has an unforgettable ending that was bound to become instant classic.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


This is one of the earliest horror films from mastermind David Cronenberg, and probably the most grounded of any of his films. Though it is still grotesque to watch, and definitely has the same ethereal wickedness of films such as "The Fly" and "Videodrome", this film at least tries to show reality in a much more conducive environment. The film follows the lives of separated parents, one of which is the father, Frank (Hindle), who is raising the couple's little girl (Hinds). The mother, Nola (Eggar), is much more interested in finding her center after living in a therapy center run by the somewhat devious Dr. Hal Raglan (Reed). Most of the film we watch her go into different trances and she finds herself crying like a strange child thanks to the beating and emotional abuse caused by her mother (Hogan). The psychological implications of the film rove right into horror as the people around Nola start to find themselves the subject of some strange physical wrath. What makes the film very eerie is completely reliant on the clinic where Nola is staying, which looks more like a darkened sauna. Oliver Reed gives a very genuine performance as the doctor who keeps Nola from the perils of the real world while also keeping her from really living her life to the fullest. He ultimately becomes a mere pawn in the strange supernatural game that Nola conducts. It really is a very warped film, in the sense that there doesn't seem to be a villain and Nola's psyche is obviously flawed, what with her acting like a delusional child. The entities that start mass murdering for her are very creepy, not just because of their deformed faces but because they look a bit like real children. Their origins and the true nature of their instability takes a while to get to, but that just gives more screen time to the killings, and when you have a film that is so weird and supernatural, that works to its advantage. This is definitely a Cronenberg film from start to finish, though some key aspects will surprise.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Formulaic and predictable.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The Brood Quotes

– Submitted by Frances H (2 years ago)

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